How much pressure you give and how to communicate
I recently attended a body mechanics workshop. One of the things we did was to measure how much pressure you give with different forms. To measure how much pressure you give, you simply measure it on the scale. Put a towel so it doesn’t hurt your hands. For me fists and elbow give about 60 lbs, supported thumbs give about 50 lbs. I’m showing this on the floor but we did it on a massage table. The amount of pressure you can give is limited to your body size. As a reference I am 5’2” tall and weigh about 115 lbs plus or minus 2. Minus 2 on a good day plus 2 on a bad day. Plus 3 on a really bad day. So there is no way for me to give more than 115 lbs, more than my weight. Even if I wanted to give 115 lbs I need to do a hand stand on my client. A bigger person can give more pressure because they can utilize more of their body weight. You can give the pressure most effectively when you are massaging right in front of you. You can also measure this by moving the scale further away from you.
Even if you know how much pressure you give, when you massage someone the pressure is all relative. It’s about how it feels to the receiver. So my light pressure may be too hard or my hard pressure may be too light for someone. If you want to communicate the exact pressure you want I recommend using a pain scale of 1-10 with 1 being no pain at all and 10 being excruciating pain. 7 is the pleasure pain threshold where it hurts good. Stay below 7 for relaxation massage because if it goes to 8 the receiver would be cussing under their breath and tightening their body which is counter-productive for a relaxation massage.
One of the Do’s for the Couples Massage Class that I teach is “Give what the receiver wants, not what you think the receiver wants.” Clear your mind and listen to what the receiver wants. If the receiver wants a fluffy level 3 massage the giver is supposed to give the receiver’s level 3, not the giver’s level 3. Adjust the pressure according to the receiver’s pain scale.
7-7-14 How much pressure do you give and how to communicate about the pressure http://bit.ly/mm-070714